A retired military doctor passed away on February 15, 2020, after being imprisoned 14 years for his faith in Falun Gong. He was 58 years old.
Mr. Zhao Chenglin and his wife, Ms. Wang Lijuan, of Benxi City, Liaoning Province, took up Falun Gong in August 1994, and credited its meditation exercises and guiding principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance with improving their health and character. The couple took very good care of Mr. Zhao’s bedridden mother, and the family was harmonious.
The unprecedented persecution of Falun Gong that was launched by the Chinese Communist Party in 1999, however, turned their happy life upside down.
Because he upheld his faith, Mr. Zhao was removed from his post in the military and transferred to a local hospital as a regular physician. He and his wife were first arrested in 2001, when their son was in elementary school. The young boy spent the next ten years without his father by his side.
One Year of Forced Labour
Mr. Zhao was arrested on May 28, 2001, for spreading information about the staged immolation hoax at Tiananmen Square aimed at framing Falun Gong.
He was given a one-year term at Benxi Forced Labour Camp and sent there in July 2001. The guards used the “rack torture” on him. His limbs were tied up and his body suspended in the air.
Mr. Zhao escaped from the labour camp in October 2001, only to be arrested again two weeks later.
Ms. Wang, who had been arrested for her faith just one month before her husband's arrest, was still detained when her husband escaped from the labour camp. The couple’s son, who was in elementary school at the time, moved in with Ms. Wang’s mother.
In order to find Mr. Zhao’s whereabouts, the police stayed in his mother-in-law’s residence for over a week and threatened her to cooperate with them to find Mr. Zhao. Her husband had recently died in despair over the arrests of their daughter and son-in-law. She struggled to take care of and calm their grandson with the constant police presence.
The police eventually tracked down Mr. Zhao after someone reported seeing him. He was taken back to the labour camp and so brutally beaten by the guards that his head became disfigured. He had difficulty breathing and was in a delirious state. The guards also hung him up by the wrists in a dark room for a few days, with his feet pulled apart by shackles. He fainted several times from the pain.
After more than a month of torture, many places on his legs festered and he suffered internal injuries. The guards refused to get him medical treatment and kept him in solitary confinement.
The Minghui website soon reported his persecution. His family also went to the labour camp to seek his release. Fearing public pressure, the guards alleviated the torture against Mr. Zhao.
An inmate who monitored him later told a Minghui correspondent, “His buttocks were damaged from the beatings. He was bedridden and unable to get up. We had to care for him. No ward wanted to accept him.”
With strong faith, Mr. Zhao survived.
Sentenced to Nine Years
Before his one-year term expired, the Benxi City 610 Office, an extralegal agency created to persecute Falun Gong, worked with the labour camp and sent him to Benxi City Detention Centre. He was sentenced to a nine-year prison term by the Xihu District Court in October 2002.
Inmates at Wafangdian Prison beat him because he refused to renounce Falun Gong. He vomited blood and was held in solitary confinement for two months.
The prison authorities repeatedly denied his family’s requests to visit him, saying that he wasn’t cooperating with prison management.
When his family was finally allowed to see him on April 1, 2007, Mr. Zhao was carried out by two inmates. He was emaciated, his face was pale, his lips were blue, and his head hung down. There was a two-inch-long wound on his head. After the inmates helped him sit in the chair, he put his face close to the phone, as his arms were too weak to pick it up.
In a very low and trembling voice, Mr. Zhao said to his family that he didn’t do anything wrong in upholding his faith. He also told his family that the inmates often beat him and deprived him of many basic rights, so he started a hunger strike to protest the persecution.
After nine hellish years in the prison, Mr. Zhao was released in June 2011.
Sentenced to the Second Four-Year Term
Mr. Zhao was arrested again only three years after he was released. He was arrested on March 26, 2014, for distributing informational materials about Falun Gong. The police hit him on the head and knocked him out. They dragged him, unconscious, into a police car and took him to Benxi Detention Centre.
The Mingshan District Court initially scheduled a hearing for his case on August 27, 2014. As he was extremely weak after holding a hunger strike to protest the persecution, the judge adjourned the hearing.
Mr. Zhao was made to appear in court again weeks later and was sentenced to a four-year prison term.
While serving time at Kangjiashan Prison, the guards also tortured him for upholding his faith. When he held a hunger strike to protest, they force-fed him and broke several of his teeth.
Mr. Zhao never recovered after being released in 2018. After struggling for two years with poor health, he passed away on February 15, 2020.
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